EFL Championship Season Preview, Tips & Analysis

EFL Championship Season Preview, Tips & Analysis

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The EFL Championship is a notoriously unpredictable division, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a go at making some forecasts for the 2019/20 campaign. The league looks particularly open this year, which could result in one of the most entertaining second-tier seasons in recent history.

Leeds The Favourites For Promotion

Leeds are 5/1 favourites with the best football betting sites to finish on top of the pile this term, and 13/8 with 888Sport for promotion and it is not too difficult to work out why. Granted, commanding centre-back Pontus Jansson has joined Brentford and will be missed, but there is still plenty of quality within the squad, which has been bolstered with the astute loan signing of Helder Costa from Wolves. There remains a possibility that things will crash and burn in Marcelo Bielsa’s second season at the helm, but the Argentinian is still the club’s biggest asset and he will no doubt have learned plenty from his first season in English football.

Fulham, 9/4 with BetHard, endured a disastrous campaign in the top flight last season, but Scott Parker has trimmed the squad and made a couple of exciting loan additions in Anthony Knockaert and Ivan Cavaleiro.

Ryan Sessegnon looks set to depart, but the retention of Aleksandar Mitrovic is a major boost given his ability to dominate defences; backing the Serbia international to finish as top scorer would be a wise move at 6/1 with Ladbrokes.

Cardiff City (7/2 with Redzone) and Huddersfield Town (11/2 with Coral) were also demoted from the Premier League in 2018/19, but both clubs are more likely to be involved in a push for the play-offs rather than a tilt at the top two and are probably worth taking on in the football betting.

West Bromwich Albion (4/1 with Redzone), Stoke City (4/1 with 888Sport) and Middlesbrough (9/2 with Betfair) were 2017/18’s relegated trio, and none of the three were able to make an immediate return to the Premier League.

West Brom came closest with defeat in the play-off semi-finals, but this will probably be a transition season under new boss Slaven Bilic. Middlesbrough are similarly under fresh leadership in Jonathan Woodgate, who may have to settle for a mid-table finish this time around. Stoke look best placed of the three to mount a promotion push; Nathan Jones is an excellent manager who made the Potters harder to beat after taking charge last January, and there is still Premier League quality within their ranks in the form of Joe Allen and Jack Butland.

Bristol City The Value To Go Up

Brentford, Bristol City and Derby County will hope to be there or thereabouts next May. The latter were beaten play-off finalists in 2018/19 and have appointed Phillip Cocu as Frank Lampard’s replacement; another top-six finish would be a fine achievement in the Dutchman’s maiden campaign as managing in England.

Brentford have finished in the top half but outside the play-offs in the last four seasons, but the big-money signing of Jansson from Leeds is a statement of intent. Thomas Frank has had time to mould the squad to his liking, and in Neal Maupay they possess a striker who hit 25 goals last term. Expect the Bees to seal a play-off place at minimum this season.

At decent odds of 15/2 with Black Type, Bristol City arguably represent the best value promotion bet in the Championship. The Robins have bettered their league position in each of the last four seasons, culminating in an eighth-place finish in 2018/19. Missing out on the play-offs was a disappointment after being lodged in the top six for much of the campaign, but City will benefit from the continuity that comes with having had Lee Johnson – a bright young coach who knows the club well – at the helm since 2016.

Ex-loanees Jay Dasilva and Tomas Kalas have joined on permanent deals from Chelsea, while outstanding centre-half Adam Webster looks set to stay put despite interest from elsewhere. They will need to improve on last season’s return of 59 goals, but Johnson’s men look well positioned to have a real crack at promotion.

Birmingham Set For Relegation?

At the other end of the table, Charlton Athletic could be in for a difficult return to this level. Lee Bowyer did a tremendous job to guide them to League One play-off success last time out, but the fact that he came close to departing this summer shows that this is a club for whom turbulence has become an almost permanent experience under Roland Duchatelet’s ownership. The Addicks’ squad looks thin and is short on proven Championship quality, and it would be a surprise if they managed to steer clear of a relegation battle this term.

Luton Town look better placed to survive in their first season back in the second flight, which will surely be the limit of their ambitions after back-to-back promotions. That momentum could serve them well, particularly in the first half of the campaign, but it remains to be seen how Graeme Jones will perform in his first role as a head coach. Darren Moore’s Barnsley, meanwhile, could prove the strongest of the promoted trio.

There is some cause for concern at Reading, who have finished 20th in both of the last two seasons, but Jose Gomes should do enough to keep them the right side of the dotted line. Queens Park Rangers might not be so lucky after some significant financial cuts over a number of years, and Hull City will similarly struggle after losing some key men this summer.

Wigan Athletic will likely endure a difficult campaign after losing Nick Powell and Daniel James, but Millwall should have enough to avoid a relegation dogfight. The same cannot be said for Birmingham City, at 4/1 with Betway a formerly well-run club who have embraced turmoil far too often for their fans’ liking in recent years. Garry Monk’s departure was an avoidable blow, and Pep Clotet is still only a caretaker manager at the time of writing. The attack has been weakened with the exits of Jota and Che Adams, which could spell trouble for the Blues this season.

Elsewhere, things could go either way for Sheffield Wednesday, Swansea City, Nottingham Forest, Preston North End and Blackburn Rovers who are all similar prices to go up, as they are to go down. Given the ultra-competitive nature of the Championship, nothing can be ruled out.

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